Vulgar Grace



Reposting this today, for many reasons. One, it is beautiful. Two, I keep hearing this conversation hijacked in relation to my life. How ought the Church people treat me? With grace or TRUTH (the real conversation is over what Truth we’re actually claiming to know. Also, spoiler alert, God’s Truth always WINS in these conversations). Three, I am continually astonished by those that think we can ever give too much grace. How can you have too much grace? Putting a limit on grace voids the word of any meaning. Four, I love Brennan Manning. It’s a Brennan kind of Morning.



Excerpt from his memoir, All is Grace:


Some have labeled my message one of “cheap grace.” In my younger days, their accusations were a gauntlet thrown down, a challenge. But I’m an old man now and I don’t care. My friend Michael Yaconelli used the phrase unfair grace, and I like that, but I have come across another I would like to leave you with. I believe Mike would like it; I know I do. I found it in the writings of an Episcopal priest Robert Farrar Capon He calls it vulgar grace.


 “In Jesus, God has put up a “Gone Fishing” sign on the religion shop. He has done the whole job in Jesus once and for all and simply invited us to believe it- to trust the bizarre, unprovable proposition that in him, every last person on earth is already home free without a single exertion.: no fasting till your knees fold, no prayers you have to get right or else, no standing on your head with your right thumb in your left ear and reciting the correct creed- no nothing… The entire show has been set to rights in the Mystery of Christ- even though nobody can see a single improvement. Yes, it’s crazy. And, yes, it’s wild and outrageous and vulgar. And any God who would do such a thing is a God who has no taste. And worst of all, it doesn’t sell worth beans. But it is Good News- the only permanently good news there is- and therefore I find it absolutely captivating.”


My life is a witness to vulgar grace- a grace that amazes as it offends. A grace that pays the eager beaver who works all day long the same wages as the grinning drunk who shows up at ten til five. A grace that hikes up the robe and runs breakneck towards the prodigal reeking of sin and wraps him up and decides to throw a party no ifs, ands or buts. A grace that raises bloodshot eyes to a dying thief’s request- “Please, remember me”- and assures him, “You bet!” A grace that is the pleasure of the Father, fleshed out in the carpenter Messiah, Jesus Christ, who left His Father’s side not for heaven’s sake but for our sakes, yours and mine. This vulgar grace is indiscriminate compassion. It works without asking anything of us. It’s not cheap. It’s free, and as such will always be a banana peel for the orthodox foot and a fairy tale for the grown up sensibility. Grace is sufficient even though we huff and puff with all our might to try to find something or someone it cannot cover. Grace is enough. He is enough. Jesus is enough.


John the disciple Jesus loved, ended his first letter with this line: “Children, be on your guard against false idols.” In other words, steer clear of any god you can comprehend. Abba’s love cannot be comprehended. I’ll say it again: Abba’s love cannot be comprehended.

-Brennan Manning